a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.
Can you tell I met/ran into a curmudgeon today? Actually I inserted myself into his space and had to put up with an amazing conversation. Here’s how it went.
We are anchored in one of the numerous bays in Grenada, a lovely country. Yesterday we had a harrowing experience leaving a different bay and our friends went aground. It was painful to see, especially because it brought back to mind our hard grounding in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. Our friends were towed off the reef by the Grenadian Coast Guard who brought them to this harbor. (That is their story and not one for me to tell on this blog.) They asked for EW’s consul regarding the damage and it was decided that they should haul out this morning, so EW went along to help handle the lines, and I took our dinghy in to lend moral support and retrieve EW.
As I dropped EW off at our friends’ boat he remembered that we wanted to take paperwork ashore to register at the nearby marine store. I told him I’d go back to La Luna and as I did, the sky darkened ominously. My inner voice suggested that I stay on La Luna until the squall had passed, but the dinghy motor was running and is was a bit of a bother to start, so I elected to grab the paperwork and head in to the marina “ahead of the storm”.
It started with a nice, gentle shower, which quickly became a downpour. I was full steam ahead across the bay until the visibility made it difficult to find the marina, the rain pelting on my face hurt, and someone cued the thunder and lightening. I was passing a catamaran and saw a figure in their cabin so I pulled in next to their pontoon and waved, giving my best wet puppy expression. The young man in the doorway (Sloops like La Luna have companionways. Catamarans have sliding glass doors.) gestured to someone behind him who came to the door, and said I could come in out of the weather.
As I crouched on their pontoon, carefully tying the dinghy’s painter (rope) to their rail, the captain muttered something that included the phrase “lesson learned”. I had a pretty good idea what he was alluding to but waited until I was in under his covered aft deck before I said, “Thank you so much. I didn’t hear what you said as the rain is so heavy.”
“I said that I bet now you’ve learned your lesson about leaving your boat in this weather. The sky had been getting darker for at least a quarter hour.”
I smiled (he did not) and said, “Yes, I almost stayed with the boat but thought I’d beat it.”
He harrumped and disappeared into his salon, the young man remained in the doorway and chatted with me for a bit. I sat, dripping, but out of the rain, and was grateful to be there while thunder boomed and lightening flashed.
The captain returned with a sandwich. It is difficult to convey his tone – not harsh, exactly. I would bet that, if he thought of this conversation at all, he thought it was just fine. He’s a man who speaks the truth as he sees it. His tone indicates that there is no room for other opinions and I certainly felt like a perky idiot. But I stayed planted on that deck until the rain stopped. And I continued to smile.
“Where you headed?”
“We have friends who are having their boat hauled and my husband is helping them with their lines. I’m going it to give him a ride home.”
“Why are they being hauled?”
“Well, they ran aground yesterday,” I began and we discussed the incident very briefly.
“Don’t you all have Satnav?”
Now, Satellite Communication has nothing to do with running aground, but this man’s demeanor and the fact that I was a wet stranger on their deck made me choose to stay cheerful and not challenge him, but I looked at him quizzically. He realized his error and said, “I mean GPS. Don’t you have a chart plotter?”
“Well yes, we do, but there was some confusion and quite large rollers over the reefs,” I explained. He was not impressed.
“This happen yesterday morning?” I said that it had. “I heard the Coast Guard go out early.” I said that yes, we had called the Coast Guard.
“What do they draw?” (For you landlubbers, he wanted to know how deep their draft is – how far below the water their boat extends. Mono-hulls tend to have deeper drafts than catamarans.)
“I think about the same as us. We draw six and a half.”
“That’s too much for the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Shouldn’t come here with boats like that.”
We weren’t going to become best buddies. He had just damned us, our friends, and 75 per cent of all the boats in the Caribbean. I dripped and smiled, and decided to change the subject.
“So, how long have you been down here?”
“Nice. Do you spend all your time in Grenada, or have you visited other islands?”
“As far as I’m concerned. Grenada is the best. No reason to go anywhere else.”
My thoughts quickly went to Isles des Saintes, Bequia, Chatham Bay. My lips stayed sealed.
“Where you from?”
“Maine. We left there in October.”
He harrumphed. “Cold up there.”
I refrained from telling him we had lived aboard, year round, for 8 years. I couldn’t take the ridicule.
“It can be. We certainly enjoyed the warmth here this winter.”
About this time the rain stopped and I thanked him for the shelter and got into my dinghy. This is one of the least hospitable cruisers I’ve met. The other two were in Luperon. All are men of a certain age, and all would be curmudgeons in any neighborhood in the world.
It’s a good reminder that our boating neighbors are as varied (or more varied) than the folks in our neighborhoods back home. I suspect that Captain Curmudgeon and I aren’t going to become friends and I respect his right to being a curmudgeon, whether or not he respects my right to have a mono-hull with a 6.5 foot draft, blond hair and a perky personality. (I may actually have perkied it up a bit in his presence. That’s my curmudgeon defense.)
Instead of a kana, perhaps there should be courtesy flags that indicate “Curmudgeon Aboard”. Ashore, houses with young children have signs they hang indicating the kids are taking a nap. At anchor, we can raise a martini or beer mug flag to announce PARTY! If there was an international sign for curmudgeon a Curmudgeon Aboard flag could be flown at all times by habitual curmudgeons and during “curmudgeon moments” by the rest of us. Given the warning of Curmudgeon Aboard, I’d have chosen a different boat for refuge.